No matter where you go, there are always remnants of the past. Some of these remnants are historical sites that are maintained to a degree for public consumption. Then there are sites that have been abandoned and left to weather time. The ones left to weather time interest me the most. These remnants hold secrets that have passed away with time. Their mysteries are what makes them interesting. It’s kind of fun speculating who, what was and what happened. It would be nice to have your own personal historian. Oh yea! I do, my wife! She is a Civil War and Slavery Historian and has a lot of knowledge about the area. If she does not know about a particular place or thing, she knows someone that does. The majority of the time when we are out, she is always pointing out some interesting fact about a particular place. When she starts a monologue about something, my boys and I just look at each other. We know we should just let her finish. To be honest, there is always something I find interesting from her stories. In this post, I photographed a few buildings I found interesting. All the building shots were taken in downtown Columbia, Tennessee with my Mamiya 645 1000S on Kodak Ektar 100. The portrait shot was taken with my Olympus OM1 on Kodak Portra.
This first building really stands out. From the colors to the architecture, it doesn’t conform. I would guess that it was some type of office front, maybe retail? I did not attempt to peep in the windows, but from the outside it looks to be divided into 3 separate but identical spaces. I can see business men and women dressed in suits and dresses walking about underneath the awning. They are saying their good mornings or good-byes as they unlock or lock their respective offices each morning and evening.Whatever it is or whatever it was, it actually looks to be in good condition. Of course a coat of paint can go a long way.
I have actually photographed this next building in black and white from a different perspective. You can see that picture here. The inclined landscape at this corner makes the form of the building interesting. Ektar 100 really brings out the red in the brick. I believe this building definitely used to be some type of retail store. Those large windows were made to showcase something. I can see the windows with products on display turning heads as the reflection of the passerby glides across the glass. A family comes out of one store with bags in hand and then walks into another. On a side note, whenever I fantasize about such times, I always imagine the people dressed nice. I don’t mean lavishly, but neat. I have seen photos of people from years ago who were poor, but what clothes they had were always clean and neat.
The writing on the awning holds some clues of what may had been sold in the store at one time. However, I can’t make out the words. I can make out the word “Shoe” on one side. Maybe one of the stores was a shoe store? As I was taking this shot I was approached by a gentlemen who asked if I was a professional photographer. After I told him this was my hobby, we started talking about all the abandon buildings around town. He said that some of the architecture reminded him of Boston, his home town. He thought it was a shame that someone did not put these buildings to good use. I agreed with him and he went on his way.
The building below is actually being used. One part is a restaurant and the other is a barber shop. The warn and damaged brick is what attracted me to this building. It is overflowing with character that only comes with years of withstanding the test of time.
While making the shot above, a stranger walked up to me. He asked me what I was doing. When I started talking about historic buildings, the flood gates opened and the man that would introduce himself as Hank, started telling me some history about the area. He started with the building I was photographing. He told me that this used to be a Smallpox Hospital during the Civil War. He told me that the road that we were standing on, was the main road from Columbia down to Alabama. He talked about the artwork in the courthouse building. It’s been a while since our talk, so I can’t remember everything. However, I do remember some perosnal stories he told me. In his younger days, he and his friends came to Columbia for entertainment. Columbia was the main destination for all the smaller towns around the area according to Hank. He told me some fishing and drinking stories. He and his friends fished at the Old City Dam. I have photographed this dam numerous times. One of my favorites can be seen here. He talked about fishing from the banks. I asked him how did they get to the other side. He said that they waded across the river. I had a surprised look on my face. I have seen the currents in this river and I personally would never attempt to cross it. He said normally they would only cross when the water level was down, but he did have one friend to get washed down the river. Hank disclosed to me that alcohol had a little something to do with that incident and by the way, his friend did survive. After we had a laugh or two, we parted ways. I should add that Hank actually works at the Chuck Wagon Grille pictured above. He was hired to do security. He let me take the portrait shot below.
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